Behind the scenes in Lapland with When You Wish Upon a Star
"Who wants to go to Lapland?" – The email subject you can only dream of landing in your inbox. We joined the non-profit organisation When You Wish Upon A Star (WYWUAS), which has a simple mission to grant wishes of children living with life-threatening illnesses, on its annual Christmas trip.
02:45am *alarm rings*
Since being founded by Barbara White in 1990 – after she was inspired by a seriously ill four-year-old with a dream to meet Mickey Mouse – When You Wish Upon a Star (WYWUAS) has now granted over 17,500 wishes across the UK. Two of the Cartwright Communications team were able to join 32 brave children, see their wishes become a reality and help to tell their amazing stories in December 2019.
Our journey to Rovaniemi
Tasked with interviewing 14 families, capturing special moments on camera and not forgetting to take in the magic ourselves, our trip to Lapland was both challenging and rewarding. Pumped with adrenaline (and black coffee) we arrived at East Midlands Airport (EMA) just shy of 04:00 am where we watched the brave youngsters along with their families light up as they were greeted by a magician, arts & crafts activities and face painting. The fun festivities continued on the private chartered flight as we sung carols, told jokes and filled up on some complimentary breakfast before landing at Rovaniemi Airport.
Three hours of light, 12 hours of magic…
With the sun typically rising at 11am and setting at 2pm mid-December, we didn’t have long before the winter wonderland would fall into darkness. A short coach journey led us to husky sleighs, reindeer rides, rows of frosty fir trees, steaming hot chocolate and fireworks. As everyone toasted marshmallows on the open campfire, Nancy and I spoke to families about their experiences prior to the trip and hear what they loved most from the activities in the ‘Enchanted Forest’.
The big moment
After experiencing the magic of the Enchanted Forest, we travelled to Santa’s Hotel in the centre of Rovaniemi where we ate a delicious meal and waited in anticipation for the moment everyone was excited for. Each child got a chance to have time with Santa, whispering their Christmas list while excitedly awaiting to hear their fate on the good list and receive a special a gift.
This was followed by a short journey to Santa’s Village where families could explore the delightful gift shops, crossing under the famous illuminated line representing the Arctic Circle. A magical day drew to a close as we made our way back to Rovaniemi Airport treasuring lasting memories and looking back on a day that wasn’t filled with the gruelling rigmarole of treatments they are used to at home.
Making a difference
Reflecting on our trip, we are so proud to have been a part of the amazing work WYWUAS does and we are glad we could spread the word which will enable it to carry on granting wishes of ill children across the nation.
It costs £900 to send each child and their guardian to Lapland, so generous donations are essential to ensure the organisation can continue this magical Christmas tradition.
The charity is already preparing for another year of fundraising for its 30th Anniversary in 2020 and is seeking volunteers to support its efforts of providing respite for families in need.
To take part in the charity’s campaigns, please visit www.whenyouwishuponastar.org.uk or contact WYWUAS at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0115 9791720.